Islamabad : President Asif Ali Zardari’s sudden departure for Dubai over a heart ailment sparked rumours, including one that referred to a coup, said a Pakistani daily that warned: “More than three decades of direct military rule should have served as a bitter lesson for our political class and citizens.”
Zardari abruptly flew out of Pakistan Tuesday, leading to much confusion and intense speculation. The official line was that he had gone to Dubai for medical tests and also to meet his children, though Pakistan Army doctors who carried out a medical check declared him fit. A US magazine quoted a former American official as saying that Zardari had a minor heart attack and may resign as president.
An editorial in the Daily Times Thursday said: “Zardari’s sudden ailment led to a plethora of rumours. Instead of wishing the president a speedy recovery, rumourmongers had a field day with the news of his illness.”
“From social networking sites to local and international media, everyone was off and running about the ouster of Zardari and a ‘soft coup’ as he had left the country for medical treatment.”
It said that in this media frenzy, confusion ensued.
The editorial said that Zardari’s condition is said to be stable now and he will hopefully be discharged from hospital in the next few days.
“What remains unstable, though, is the condition of all those who are in the habit of churning out rumours…What people fail to realise is that the implications of every rumour and purported news can be serious in some cases.”
It said that responsible media personnel are aware that believing the worst of everything is not good.
“But what we saw in Pakistan was the exact opposite of anything ‘responsible’. Irresponsibility, immaturity and speculation were rife left, right and centre.
“…Gossip and scandal mongering discredits those who indulge in such practices. In a country like Pakistan, such things are common practice but it is time to change this attitude and adopt responsibility and ethics.”
Making a sharp comment on the Pakistani media, the editorial said: “It was also disgusting to see a section of the media and society salivating at the thought of the president’s illness and consequent ‘developments’ in case something went wrong.”
It went on to say that if some people are unhappy with the incumbents, they should wait for the next general elections and vote them out through the ballot box.
“Relying on unconstitutional moves is dangerous. More than three decades of direct military rule should have served as a bitter lesson for our political class and citizens. Unfortunately, it looks like we are hell bent on repeating the same mistakes over and over again.”
President Zardari has been under intense pressure ever since a secret memo to Washington came to light. The memo said that Zardari feared a military coup after the May 2 operation to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.